The arrest and sentencing of Paljor Norbu, an 84 year-old Tibetan and master printer of Buddhist texts demonstrates the extreme injustice of the Chinese government’s crackdown in Tibet following the Uprising in 2008.
Paljor Norbu was arrested on 31 October 2008 under suspicion of printing “prohibited materials” including the Tibetan flag. In a secret trial in November, he was sentenced to seven years in prison. Chinese authorities have not disclosed the details of the trial but based on the length of his prison sentence, Human Rights Watch suggests he was likely convicted of “inciting separatism”. His family has not been allowed to see him.
Paljor Norbu began printing at the age of 11 when Tibet was an independent country. He was 21 years old when Chinese tanks first invaded eastern Tibet. A decade later, following the 1959 Tibetan National Uprising, he was imprisoned because he had been employed as a printer by the Tibetan government.
He survived the Cultural Revolution, martial law, and the waves of Chinese settlers to Lhasa. Through 50 years of Chinese occupation, Paljor Norbu preserved and upheld Tibetan culture and traditional forms of printing. Since his arrest in October, his print shop has been closed and all his employees have been discharged.